How I Met Your Mother "The Fortress" Review: If Lily Were to Buy Barney's Place, It'd be the Fortress of Suckitude

How I Met Your Mother S08E19: "The Fortress"

Lily is the worst.

Oh, I have to write more than just that? Okay, okay, but that one statement could summarize "The Fortress" in its entirety. One of the biggest problems HIMYM has encountered lately is that Lily has ceased being an actual character and instead been transformed into a plot device. She swings without warning from being Marshall’s goofy partner in sexual escapades to being the unhappy mother who blames her husband for her career as a teacher. (Speaking of which, did Lily quit her job as a teacher, or is she just playing hooky while she’s looking at art for The Captain?)

When HIMYM started in 2005, Alyson Hannigan was probably the most famous member of the core cast. Yeah, Neil Patrick Harris’s Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle cameo debuted in 2004, but other than that, he didn’t have much going on. Josh Radnor’s biggest role before the show was the tour guide in Not Another Teen Movie. Jason Segel’s Freaks and Geeks/Undeclared years were in the past. Cobie Smulders wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Hannigan was the big draw, made famous by the American Pie trilogy. By the time HIMYM wraps up after next season, Hannigan is going to wind up being the cast member with the least noteworthy stuff on her resume. How much of that can be blamed on the weak character she’s played the past few seasons?

So what was it about "The Fortress" that makes me declare Lily the worst? After Lily’s life crisis a few weeks ago, the one where she claimed she had given up her dreams as an artist for the life she now has (even though she failed to find success as an artist in San Francisco and came back to Marshall on her own), Lily is now working as an art consultant for The Captain, the ex-husband of Zoey, the woman Ted stole away from The Captain. Unable to just let Lily settle into this job as a normal person, the HIMYM writers have turned her into a single-minded workaholic, having her choose to abandon Marshall and Marvin whenever The Captain calls. Okay, maybe Lily could allow herself to get sucked in by work—it happens to the best of us—but the fact that we had to watch and listen to her become some snooty art expert who wears capes and feathered hats was too much. Hasn’t Lily made fun of Ted (on numerous occasions) for changing his personality to fit a new girl he was dating?

With just over a season left to go, I think Lily’s become a lost cause. If HIMYM were to devote the time needed to save her character, it would be taking away valuable time from the one final story HIMYM fans are dying to see—the one where Ted meets the Mother.

There are only five episodes left in Season 8, so are we any closer to meeting the Mother? Nope. "The Fortress" focused mainly on Barney’s hesitation to give up his apartment so that he and Robin can move into a place of their own. After Ted declined to buy the place and make it Ted’s “Fortress of Soli-Ted,” Robin threw an open house to finally find a buyer. Thanks to this, we got a chance to see Barney show off all the features he'd built into the apartment to aid him in his one-night stand adventures: A doormat that alerted Barney to girls who weren’t quite so thin under winter coats, a balcony equipped with a green screen to convince women they were in Paris or Niagara Falls, a chute that would allow Barney to bail out of the apartment and into the alley, and a sprinkler system that would activate at the sound of commitment—all features that seemed to chase away potential buyer after potential buyer, making it appear that Barney and Robin would forever live there.

Once Robin did find a buyer for the apartment, Barney came to terms with the change upon realizing that the Fortress of Solitude was where Superman went to be alone, and with Robin in his life, Barney no longer wanted to be alone. Luckily for Barney, Robin then kicked the buyer out when they told her they planned on stripping the apartment to its framework. Robin realized that while Barney’s apartment features were kind of creepy, they still showed signs of genius.

While Lily was being the worst and Robin and Barney were trying to figure out where to live, Marshall was coping with Lily’s absence and Ted was filling in for Lily, picking up the slack during Marvin’s lullaby time. Since Lily was gone so much, Marshall not only missed the chance to be intimate with his wife, he also missed watching new episodes of Woodworthy Manor, their new favorite TV addiction. Alone and vulnerable, though, Marshall succumbed to Ted’s advances and committed a few acts of Netflix adultery, watching ahead without Lily. The two later showed up to Robin’s open house with Marvin and were mistaken for a gay married couple, something Marshall was more than happy to play along with to spite his wife.

As I mentioned above, there are just five episodes left in the season, meaning HIMYM should start picking up again soon. The final two episodes of Season 8 are called "Something Old" and "Something New," which diehard HIMYM fans will realize closely mirrors "Something Borrowed" and "Something Blue," the last two episodes of Season 2. The main events in those two Season 2 episodes? A wedding in the penultimate episode and a wedding reception in the season finale. Here’s hoping HIMYM once again follows that pattern, giving us Barney and Robin’s wedding in "Something Old" and their wedding reception in "Something New." If "Something Old" was the wedding, it would be the completion of an old love story, meaning "Something New" would be the perfect spot to introduce us to a new love story… the Mother's.



NOTES & QUOTES

– Barney is a state certified orgasmologist. Now I understand were my tax dollars were going when I lived in New York.

– While Barney's Hoe-Be-Gone Sleep System was interesting, I really want to know where the lion head statue the guys stole from the Arcadian has gone. It was once hanging above Barney's bed, but appears to have gone missing this season.

HIMYM
’s Woodworthy Manor is to Downton Abbey what Community’s Inspector Spacetime is to Dr. Who.

– Lily was wearing a sweater with a boat on it while on the phone with The Captain. How appropriate.

– “Oh my god, can you just be cool? Once. Please. Just once. Can you just be cool once? Please?” I loved Barney’s deadpan plea for coolness from Ted.

– Barney upon arriving in an apartment full of people: “I see what this is. You finally greenlit my orgy idea.”

– Robin: “It’s an open house, Barney. Say goodbye to your fortress.”

– Barney: “If we weren’t about to have an orgy, I’d be so mad at you right now.” 

– Netflix cheating is a real thing. At least, according to an article that appeared on The Cut this week.

– Robin trying to get people excited about Barney’s apartment: “You know what’s not a choice? Being gay for this kitchen! That came out wrong…”

– Barney to Ted after watching a test dummy meet its death after falling from his escape chute: “And you said testing with a dummy was a waste of time.”

– Ted: “No, I said dressing the dummy up was a waste of time.” 

– “The Fortress of Solitude is where Superman goes to be alone, and I never want to be alone again. But then I remembered that in Superman II, Superman gave up all his powers to be with Lois Lane, and he was honestly kind of a vag after that. Now Superman III was a complete trainwreck, totally.” Barney’s attempt to once again explain his love to Robin wasn’t the most graceful of his monologues, but it did highlight the fact that the “Superman films are uneven.”

– No, Open House Girl is not the Mother.


Comments (53)
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Was this Netflix cheating? I thought it was DVR cheating. When they talk about the big reveal they've been working on "all season long." That doesn't sound Netflixish to me.

I enjoyed Lily's crazy characters. Bill you are always harping on this. Mainly because what are you going to do with this character. She's reconiled with her father, she's married to the love of her life, she's a mom, and now she's even got a job she loves (I assumed she was still teaching and they just weren't showing that but maybe she isn't.) How do you develop her any further and where do you take her? I say just have fun with it.

I kinda think that apartment should either become a Museum of Banging or should be torn down. Ted can't live there - no way. And will any Bro be able to use it the way Barney has over the years? The answer is no. Sometimes you gotta retire the jersey of a player that's relaly good. Barney's apartment might need to be retired.
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My main issue wuth the episode is that with this being the show coming to its last legs they should focus on the last remaining puzzle of the show and revel the mother cuz that is the theme of the entirety of the show. Ted is now a pushover to the whole Robin/Barney relationship which is stale. On Lily u only get to do what the writers give u and it aint her fault that most of the stuff with the Captain is boring, i much orefer if she is given the sort of paronoid mom.
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Can we not talk about the elephant in the room concerning Robin and Barney?! The question of children has not even been mentioned until this episode when they talk about a joke concerning adoption. Robin does not want to have children but we have been shown before that Barney does one day want children. I recall an episode where he and Ted wanted to adopt a baby together. So how does it work that Robin never wants kids and Barney does???!!!!
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Robin doesn't have any children. That gets stated on some episode of season 7
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Yep you are right, it says that she never has children. But if Barney wants children, does that mean one day they may break up because of it? Is Robin and Barney destined to fail because of it. In the episode where she learns that she can't have kids it goes on to say how she does all of the amazing things instead. But it never says she does them with Barney or anyone else for that matter.
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I need the Jor-El head contraption in my life!
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yeah totally enjoyed that bid especially when Barney was using it
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I loved the Jor-el floating head bit, especially when Robin got in to use it. The episode may not have moved the Ted storyline ahead but I still enjoyed the jokes and all of Barney's contraptions.
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I agree about Lily, she's been the weakest character in the last few season, which makes her completly boring. HIMYM used to have so well written character and it was so much fun to watch that it just makes me sad, mostly because Alyson Hannigan has proven to be so amazing when Lily demanded it.
However, and unlike the last 3 or so episodes, HIMYM was pure fun, not because of plot but because the time these writers didn't spend on Lily they spent on Marshall and Barney, and that was so worthy. Those two characters are by far the best and honestly, it's the only thing that makes HIMYM worth watching lately.
I do hope they get serious about the finale, this is a show I love and I would hate to watch sink before it concludes...
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I think each of them has had their ups and downs as the show goes on. Sure, Hannigan hasn't had the most success outside the show compared to the others, but she's by no means out for the count. I've enjoyed Lily's blips this season - she's been very real. No one is ever a perfect parent. No one is ever a perfect spouse. No one is ever a perfect employee. People make mistakes, just like she has. It gives the series that touch of grounding in reality that's easy to lose track of. And this episode might not have been full-blown "here's the mother" progressive, but it still got back to the main plot of the season: the marriage. Robin and Barney are figuring out the steps necessary. We're getting there.
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Can this show get any worse? I don't think so!!! How can they be bringing it back for another year? Just tell us people who started watching this show when it was still good, who the hell the mother is and cancel this big piece of crap!!!!!!!!!! Oh, and The Following is a joke! If the FBI was really this incompetent, they'd disband it for crying out loud!!!
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The show has really gone down the crapper.

It's kind of sad, when the funniest bits of a show are the made up inventions. When "Carrot Top's" strategy is the best part of a comedy bit, you have a major problem.

That being said... Barney's inventions were pretty funny. Particularly the Jor-El device, the Ho-Be-Gone, and how "I'm all wet" turns off the sprinkler ;-)
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I disagree on Alyson being the least successful of the cast right now. Josh Radnor is the one that is doing the worst. It's not as if "Liberal Arts" has made him a star.
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Lily might be bored because of her horrible husband. If the show could just kill him off I bet that she would bloom if she encounters a normal man.
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Marshall is one of the most even aspects of the show. He's boring at times: but he's usually fairly funny, often quite wise (when it comes to Ted), and probably the most normal character on the show.

Robin is probably the second-most-normal character, though her hijinx sometimes put her just above Barney in terms of normalcy.
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You are entirely right about Lily, and yet for me that was the part of the episode that had the least impact because the A story with Barney and Robin was just so offensively wrong-headed and sick. The fact that Robin ends up standing up for Barney's hateful garbage is a repeat of the same behavior as the recent episode where she gets fed up with his lying, and he says he lied to get her, and she's happy with that. The problem is that there's NOTHING acceptable about what Barney has going on there, it's hateful and grotesque and diminishes everyone involved, yet Robin ultimately stands up for it claiming it's genius - it's not, it's foul and pathetic and shouldn't be remotely celebrated. It's also entirely false to who Robin was a season ago, and the fact that Barney thinks he can pull off an orgy continues to show how screwed up that relationship really is, yet they keep spoonfeeding us Robirney as if it's working. Then there's Ted & Marshall's storyline that was just sad and went nowhere, and it dove into gay stereotype jokes just to make sure the bottom of the barrel had been thoroughly scraped. This was not a good episode to be a straight guy.
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Having been his friend for all this years she as she got used to most of shenanigans and the orgy stuff is just part of it. And from the episode u could see she tried to get rid of the house for them to start anew and leave all the crap behind them but at the same time she got to defend the love of her life when strangers are bashing him for his well thought escapades.
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You ever have something postive to say about the shows that you watch?
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No. He gets himself off thinking he is smarter than TV Writers
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Eh, you don't know me at all. But at least we have you to make sure TV writers stay as stupid and lazy as possible.
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I think the visitors here to TV.com know who you are by now
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Yes. Thanks for asking.
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I'm NOT saying that Robin + Barney makes little sense, if for no reason than how miserable they were together a few seasons ago (weight gain, bad skin, etc.).

The thing is: as we've learned (even way way back) Robin isn't exactly the most normal or level-headed person. Her relationship with her father damaged her... badly. She's in a constant struggle between trying to be an independent woman and an ultra-tomboy.

OK, from season 1 (or whatever) we learn that she's very career oriented, wants to travel, and does not want any kids. That doesn't exactly differ from Barney (in all 3 categories). But we also know she's a gun nut (not a gun owner, a gun nut). She can get wicked violent. She has had intimacy issues. And at times isn't that against Barney's ideas. Heck, they even both reacted and danced the same way when they got the news that she wasn't pregnant.

Both Robin and Barney had daddy issues growing up. Both had unconventional childhoods: Robin as a teenage pop star while Barney went from hippie to yuppy in the span of a day.

Yes, Barney has lied to her but I agree there are lies and there's the truth. The two don't have to always be mutually exclusive. And he made sure she KNEW about the lies: she CHOSE to be with her despite of the trick, instead of being tricked into it entirely. So she knows what she's getting into, and likes it.
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It's an interesting take, but Robin as described there doesn't take a lot of crap from men, and there isn't anything remotely like a father in Barney. It doesn't feel like the Robin from even the beginning of this season when Nick was her beau, this Robin says there are more lies and she can't take it, then Barney agrees but that's good enough for her? It just doesn't track as true, and it makes Barney feel like someone's making excuses for his behavior rather than tolerating some of it and condemning most of it.
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Wow guy! Little too much anger sensed there! Chill!
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He's also sporting a massive erection
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The episode was mediocre IMO and sorry but I still can't accept Robin and Barney as a couple.
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Finally, someone has said it. Everytime theyre on screen together as a couple I cringe, or gag. Im not sure why everyone was so ecstatic to find out that they were gonna be the ones getting married. Robin is a horrendous character, Barney is far too awesome to be with her.
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Actually Robin used to be great character IMHO but in the latter seasons the writers just destroyed her.
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Anyone notice that when HIMYM wasn't stalling it was pretty good this season, but once they got the season 9 confirmation (minus the robin daggars episode), it has been more of the same medicority.

Dexter went through something similar in season 6 (it was terrible), but once season 7 came around, they stopped stalling at it was awesome. I think HIMYM will be much better next season (as the mother will hopefully be introduced)...and then everybody will want a season 10...lol
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I think the mediocrity started to seep in at the beginning of the season considering they had already wrapped up the show's storylines (Barney/Robin are who get married) at the end of last season. We haven't been left guessing too much since then and it basically feels like the show's a few episodes away from ending. Why tune in next season unless they hold out the mother's identity until the series finale?
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Did anyone else think the whole "Woodworthy Manor" thing was actually CBS making fun of people who like Downton Abbey? Inspector Spacetime is a loving parody of Doctor Who; I did not get the love at all from HIMYM. As for the rest, yeah, aside from a couple of solid moments this episode blew. Get on with it, HIMYM.
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I think you're seeing more than what's there - the Downton Abbey parody here seemed pretty neutral, it neither celebrated the fans nor did it condemn them, it was a thing that happened, some of the characters really liked it, others weren't into it, just like real life with the way Downton Abbey is a bit of a fad in some circles here in the US.
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Maybe you're right. I tend to suspect CBS of doing ridiculous things to pander to the people they see as their audience, usually because they are.
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In what world did Alyson Hannigan become famous because of American Pie? I would think that 7 years of Buffy did that.
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willow should go kick the reviewer :)
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How about this: they're both true, she is famous in different circles for both.
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I agree that the omission of Buffy as a source of her fame was ridiculous, but American Pie did widen her fan base to the dudebro crowd who wouldn't be caught dead watching Buffy (to their great detriment). Remember, this is CBS we're talking about.
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*scratches head*

If there are people who don't like Buffy, I've never met them.
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I saw the movie when it came out and didn't like it, so I didn't bother with the show even knowing how disconnected the film was from that, so I don't "like" Buffy because I never bothered watching it. My name is JT Kirk, and now you know me. ;-)
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7 years of work on a low-rated (but cult-popular) show = one line in a popular movie. "one time, at band camp..."
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Actually, it wasn't all that low rated. It was on a new(er) network and consistently ranked in the top 5 shows on that network and is attributed with having put the WB on the ratings map. Saying that the fame of the cast of Buffy started (with few exceptions) with some later work is as ridiculous a saying that the fame of the cast of Dawson's Creek started later than DC. They were both well rated for their networks and have had huge impacts, despite not drawing in the numbers comparable to the Big Four
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Although Buffy wasn't that low rated, it just wasn't mainstream enough.
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sad, but very true
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Way more famous for American Pie than Buffy.
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I may have much more respect for Buffy than American Pie, but it's pretty obvious that Michelle stands out way more than Willow does in her career.
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yeah 150 hours and thensome of Willow vs 6 hours as Michelle, indeed one clearly stands out, it's not cuz American Pie was more pop that it did more for her, Willow 4ever, s.... American pie!!!
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Oh My God they need to give Lily a storyline it's not enough to tell us Lily found a job in an entire season.
she's my favorite character they need to do something that focus mainly on Lily they haven't done that since she left to San Francisco the rest of the time she's been Marshall's wife and nothing else if they don't know what to do with her now then what the hell is she going to do next season ???
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Lily is so terrible she's making Ted look good. I liked this episode more than most this season because the Robin-Barney hijinks were fun and loving. I believe in that relationship the way I used to believe in Marshall and Lily.

Part of the problem is that Alyson Hanningan has apparently pissed off the same stylist that Cobie Smulders suffered through last season. Yes, she's clearly carrying around some extra weight since the birth of her child, but it's like the stylist is determined to CALL THIS OUT. Her limp hair makes her look tired and old. Look, I am a full time working parent the same age as Hannigan and have the same age kid. If I can manage to pick out a few outfits that hide the bulges, certainly a stylist for a top-rated sitcom can pull this off.

Otherwise, Lily is just the latest victim of the HIMYM lazy writing, which has transformed once interesting characters into caricatures.
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I agree with ou, Lily is the actual worst. But I don't think she's ever been an actual likable character. I started disliking her when she left Marshall to go to San Francisco and that was years ago. Overall, I found the whole episode pretty boring, except for the part during which Ted and Marshall pretended to be a couple. The line "Gay people don't get married to prove a point" was actually perfect. I like when writers get political.
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Lily is a lovable and awful character, both at the same times, depending on where you look at her.. on one extent, she is a loving mother, devoted wife, maternal persona of the group (that takes care of others), a doer, a dedicated human being; on the other extent she is a manipulative bitch, that sticks her nose into everybody elses business, a borderline nymphomaniac, she intrudes, intervenes, conspries, whines and nags. However, this pro-con list can be made for the entire group members: individually as well as a group (functioning and dysfunctioning -to an almost cartoon degree).. the therapist guy whom Robin used to date, Victoria, and many other people whom passed by this group has pointed out all of these issues in one way or another.. so, it is pretty useless to blame Lily for whatever she is, has been or will be: it is very same for everyone else in the team..
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This is really interesting, because I've actually been giving Lily a lot of thought lately, and I like season 6-8 Lily a whole hell of a lot better than season 1-4 Lily. She used to be my least favorite character, from the running away to San Francisco, to her unfunny stealing phase, to her credit card debt (and, to some extent, her awful haircut in Season 3). I think she's actually more likable now. That said, I don't think it's inconsistent that should would want this job when it's the first time in her career she's found success. She gets turned into a plot device sometimes, but really, that's happened to every one of them at some point or another.
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